Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reader Beware: Appetite Will Be Lost

Fast Food Nation

Written by: Eric Schlosser

Released: January 17, 2001 by Harper Perennial

Summary: On any given day, one out of four Americans opts for a quick and cheap meal at a fast-food restaurant, without giving either its speed or its thriftiness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems as American, and harmless, as apple pie. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenization, and speed has radically transformed America's diet, landscape, economy, and workforce, often in insidiously destructive ways. Eric Schlosser, an award-winning journalist, opens his ambitious and ultimately devastating exposé with an introduction to the iconoclasts and high school dropouts, such as Harlan Sanders and the McDonald brothers, who first applied the principles of a factory assembly line to a commercial kitchen. Quickly, however, he moves behind the counter with the overworked and underpaid teenage workers, onto the factory farms where the potatoes and beef are grown, and into the slaughterhouses run by giant meatpacking corporations. Schlosser wants you to know why those French fries taste so good (with a visit to the world's largest flavour company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns." Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--feces in your meat.
Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of federal oversight of a seemingly lawless industry. His searing portrayal of the industry is disturbingly similar to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, written in 1906: nightmare working conditions, union busting, and unsanitary practices that introduce E. coli and other pathogens into restaurants, public schools, and homes. Almost as disturbing is his description of how the industry "both feeds and feeds off the young," insinuating itself into all aspects of children's lives, even the pages of their school books, while leaving them prone to obesity and disease. Fortunately, Schlosser offers some eminently practical remedies. "Eating in the United States should no longer be a form of high-risk behaviour," he writes. Where to begin? Ask yourself, is the true cost of having it "your way" really worth it? --Lesley Reed

So this week I moved from one side of the province to the other and started a new-old job (same summer job that I had last year), so reading has taken a back seat for the last few days. However, I’m only working weekends for the next month, so luckily I’ll be able to catch up on my extensive reading list come tomorrow night after 6. Because of all this, I’m digging deep into my high school past and reviewing a book that I read for one of my classes taught by a prejudiced teacher.

Anyways, for this class which I can’t remember what it was called – it was something like world relations… something – we had to read two non-fiction books about topics related to whatever we were talking about that year in class. I read Saddam’s Bomb and this book.

I have to admit that I was hesitant about reading this at all since I’m not much of a non-fiction person, but this was absolutely horrible. Of course, when I say horrible in this context, I mean absolutely disgusting, fascinating, and amazing. It was so gripping that I don’t think I ate fast food for over 6 months.
The details that this book goes into, the real-life testimonies from people, the fact that McDonalds has its own freaking university, it’s unbelievable.

I don’t think that I will ever read this book again, I like my Wendy’s Spicy Chicken and fries way too much, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read about the subject, or anyone who wants a good non-fiction book. I give it an 8/10. If you want to gross yourself out, or if you want to stop eating food that’s bad for you, this book is definitely for you.

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